Eugenio José Guilherme de Aragão
Eugênio José Guilherme de Aragão was Minister of Justice during the government of Dilma Rousseff (PT) - PHOTO: Disclosure Palácio do Planalto

By Eugênio Aragão* for Revista Brasileiros n˚113

This text is part of the special 2017 x 24 – visions, predictions, fears and hopes of issue number 113 of Revista Brasileiros, where writers and collaborators were invited to think about what and how much we could expect – if we could – for our country in 2017.

The sea is not for fish. You can see, with the naked eye, Brazil melting. The coup projected us into an institutional limbo that we did not know existed. On the edge of the reality of a failed state, we see the insolent Public Ministry challenging popular representation. And it does so with the use of its rotten powers of intimidation, a practice that we only knew from the “bullet lobby”, from the police representative entities. And this is only possible because the National Congress is going through its biggest ethical crisis in history, with insignificant groups, mostly ultra-conservative, pulverized by almost three dozen parties that do not say what their programs, ideals, scopes are and do not even have spontaneous militancy (different from paid militancy). After all, a few hundred parliamentarians with accounts to settle with Justice facilitate the daring of the criminal prosecution body. And the false moralist discourse, which reduces Brazil's problems to the field of corruption, managed to win over masses of hearts and minds provided with only a couple of neurons.

The Federal Supreme Court (STF), the greatest guardian of the Constitution, lost every opportunity to defend legitimate power and put a brake on the political opportunism of the losers of the 2014 elections and on the abused corporatism of some state careers. While the country was experiencing one of its biggest political and ethical crises with the cheated removal of the President of the Republic, the excellent sodalitium decided whether consumers could bring their own popcorn into movie theaters or if they were forced to buy it there… surreal.

At the same time, the economy is failing. The aggressiveness of Operação Lava Jato over large business assets decimated close to 30% of the Gross Domestic Product and took thousands of jobs with it. The crushing of oil production with national content led to the collapse not only of the equipment industries, but also of the states of the federation that stopped collecting taxes and earning royalties. The state of Rio de Janeiro is the most concrete example of the damage caused by the lack of a persecutory and economic strategy.

In this environment, the market shrinks and the business appetite enters a fasting regime. Investments stop being made and the prospects for a sovereign national development project disappear.

The political and economic conjuncture is conducive to adventures and adventurers, whether they are parasitic or fascist populist. Only these have nothing to lose. Some can count on the benevolence of rentiers and employers to the north of the globe; others take advantage of discouragement and collective phobias to offer easy ways out and without any attachment to reality, to deceive the masses with the false feeling of being a united people, submissive to a “new order” that replaces the old one, rotten with corruption and with perverse “communism”.

It is in this context that 2017 unfolds. What to expect from it? More of the same, if institutions do not have the courage to reinvent their practice. The challenges are enormous for the Judiciary and the Legislature. The Executive, poor thing, from being the protagonist of a project of inclusive democracy, became the trailer of history, without any autonomy to carry out public policies, to govern. The coup disfigured the presidential constitutional system and transformed it into a pack parliamentarism, comparable to the dynamics of a mass of hungry canines sniffing around for scraps here and there in a sanitary landfill.

What to expect from the Judiciary? Hard to say. A character emerges with disproportionate powers: Mr. Minister Gilmar Mendes, president of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) and the 2nd class of the STF. In this dual condition, it guides the proceedings in Organs jurisdictional bodies in which it operates. And for that alone he is the most powerful man in the putrefying republic. On him depend the fate of Mr. Michel Temer and the main actors in the Legislature. In the TSE, ruling or not ruling the PSDB's actions against Dilma's ticket in the 2014 elections could mean life or death for the government born from the parliamentary coup; in the 2nd class of the STF, listing Lava Jato facts on a day with a complete quorum or an incomplete quorum can mean rejection or admission of complaints, granting or denial of habeas corpus and even conviction or acquittal of defendants. Who else can so much? It is not surprising, therefore, that the president of the Senate, Senator Renan Calheiros, filed impeachment requests handled in that legislative house against Gilmar. After all, it's up to him whether or not Renan will be condemned and when he will be...

At the Attorney General's Office, corporatism overcame hope, when Mr. Rodrigo Janot decided to assume himself as one of the many vigilantes that swarm in the Federal Public Ministry. He came out of the closet. After all, with the coup, times are more propitious for the moralist-punitivist profile. It gives more support than being critical of our broken justice system. Going with the tide and pretending that the crisis is someone else's problem makes life more comfortable. Therefore, the choice of José Bonifácio as his deputy (regardless of whether he was a competent and correct person in his work) was already a harbinger of the new times of greater political clarity: Bonifácio was attorney general of the state of Minas Gerais in the government of Aécio Neves and succeeded, in the FHC government, Gilmar Mendes at AGU. There's no way anyone could be closer to the tall plumage toucanate. Operation Lava Jato, which Janot refused to civilize for fear of attrition with the coup media and his entourage of vigilantes, will finally be able to close his strong movement and enter the pianissimo, putting aside his opposition activism. After all, he has already done the little job that was expected of him, which was to make the government of the legitimately elected president unfeasible. Now that he might get too close to characters on the other side of the river, it's better to send these boys to study abroad or move to more attractive capitals.

The Judiciary and the Federal Public Ministry are, therefore, in the PSDB's area of ​​influence. The fact that Rodrigo Janot had dinner with José Genoino years ago does not change that statement at all.

The perspectives are, in this constellation of conditions, very propitious for a resizing of the importance of the losers of the last presidential election in the government of the country, with the frank support of the judicial complex at its top. For Temer, there will not be much left but to bow to this reality and become a puppet of the right that militates for a project of political and economic denationalization of Brazil. For someone who hated being a decorative deputy and dreamed so much of being president, having his young wife as a presentable first lady in the salons of the Republic, occupying his days combing his vanity, this is a lesser evil. The PMDB was never convinced of anything other than making use of the facilities that power provides, regardless of who pulls the strings. Being decorative president of the rooting pack isn't all that bad. The Alvorada Palace has its charms.

But if there is a problem with the Temer government's sustainability, the guillotine is ready to cut its throat at the TSE. The timing is in the hands of the merciful executioner, president of the court. And, when Temer leaves, the masters of conspiratorial conspiracies of the PSDB will know how to make the successor in indirect elections. Everyone will be happy in this pack parliamentarism, because even the current PGR will be able to make Bonifácio his successor, guaranteeing calmer days for the governance of the bionic president.

In Congress, the presidents of the Chamber and Senate are expected to be replaced, probably toucans or filotucans. It's as if we live in a parallel world, not easy and that demands a lot of Sonrisal to bear. But the uproar will not be delayed. When the extent of the involvement of parliamentarians with the bribery scheme exposed by Lava Jato appears, many will have to say goodbye to the mandate. Perhaps it is even a case of considering new elections, as this Congress will not have the legitimacy to partner with the bankrupt government or the choice of a bionic head of government.

Finally, the people. Ah, the people… in these times they are so forgotten, except when the MBL claims to be a “people”, with Le Creuset beating on the gourmet balconies of Asa Sul, Avenida Faria Lima, Avenida Vieira Souto or the buildings in the vicinity of Farol da Barra. Then they find a way to be remembered, even if it's a fraud. But the real people, those who gained inclusion with the Bolsa Família, Pronatec and Minha Casa Minha Vida programs, if they don't know how to articulate and react accordingly, will be returning to misery, with a return to three decades ago, without inclusion programs and income for the poorest. The toucan never cared about themselves and there are those who think that social investment is throwing money away, as it would feed half a dozen PT parasites. The result could be a vertiginous fall in human development indices, enrollment in public schools and universities by low-income students and students, with the reintroduction of Brazil into the hunger map. It is necessary to react massively against this sharing of the State and its resources by those who took it by storm. If not through provocation by institutions, since these were captured by the coup, it must be through the articulation of the most enlightened part of society with popular movements.

And the military? So far they are quiet. But we can be sure they are very upset. The Brazilian Armed Forces are composed of people from the urban middle class. Therefore, they have a more conservative profile. But they adopt a doctrine of national interest that collides head-on with what is being messed up in the coup government. The arrest and conviction, with a fuss, of Admiral Othon, father of Brazilian nuclear energy, the dismantling of strategic industries, such as the naval, prepared to renew the Navy's fleet, or the Air Force, which has in its portfolio the Air Force Brazilian as one of the main customers, cannot be accepted without reaction. It would not be in their tradition of defending Brazil. Our brave soldiers know very well how the governments from 2003 to 2016 were seriously concerned with their re-equipment, recovering the lost years of the FHC government. Going back and giving up Brazil's strategic role in geopolitics is a crime against the homeland, practiced to serve rotten alien interests and guarantee the gain of a selfish elite with no vision of the world and history.

In short, we have a lot to expect from the coming year, less tranquility. The escalation of the crisis is inexorable with a noisy ending like a climax in a Wagnerian opera. If what comes after helps us see light at the end of the tunnel, it will be a win. It is for the corporations of the State careers, for the Parliament and for the population, the lesson that one does not fight with an agreed Constitution, because the turmoil that follows does not compensate for the advantages obtained by a few greedy people eager for power.

May God show you are Brazilian in 2017!

*Eugênio Aragão is a former Minister of Justice. Deputy Attorney General of the Republic and Professor of Criminal Law at the University of Brasília (UnB)

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